Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Communications Planning for your Non-Profit

If your organization has never taken the time to create a formal communications plan - now is a great time to do so. Set aside a day if you can, half-a-day if that's all you have, and work through the details of your organization's plan.

  1. Start with a situation analysis - what's happening in your organization? In your sector? In your industry? Be honest and take the time to analyze what has recently changed, and what lessons have been learned.
  2. Next move into objectives - what are your communications objectives for the year? What objectives did you achieve last year? What objectives are still outstanding?
  3. Examine your target audience(s) - who do you normally reach? What new audiences should you look to reach going forward? Where do your target audiences get their information? How do they pass information amongst themselves?
  4. What research is available to you? When needed, do you have ready access to facts to facts and figures that support your claims. Have you made that information available to others? Does your organization do research it can share? Do you need to commission research to show progress from year to year?
  5. What are your key messages? Can your staff, volunteers, donors, board members and funders repeat them easily? Do you need to adjust your key messages to be more relevant to new audiences you've targeted? Do your key messages have supporting stories, photos, videos or sound? Are those easily available to press contacts? Do you have a plan to keep those elements updated and fresh?
  6. What's your press strategy? How are you going to get the word out about your organization's work this year? Will you focus on generating coverage related to calendar events and milestones? Will you establish press coverage goals by quarter? Do you have an online strategy that extends beyond your website? Is your website set up to help members of the press easily find what they need? Have you identified individuals that are ready to work with the pres on short notice? Do additional people need media training? Are there organizations or groups with whom your organization should look to partner for increased exposure?
  7. How will you monitor and evaluate your work? What metrics should you track? How often? What thresholds differentiate between success and failure? Who should have access to the data?
Take the time now to tackle these tough questions with your organization's core team, and set up a session now to revisit your progress in six months. You'll be glad you did.

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